Lessons Learned from a Research Saga

An Ambitious Content Analysis of Television Form

Matthew Lombard


A team of researchers led by the author developed, designed, conducted, and reported a large-scale content analysis of the structural features of television. The project was unusually ambitious and, by necessity, creative. The chapter describes some of the key decisions and challenges the team faced along the way and the unexpected afterlife of the original project. The author concludes with advice for content analysis and for other researchers based on lessons learned from the experience.

This chapter describes lessons I learned from a long research saga: designing, conducting, writing up, presenting, and publishing an ambitious content analysis of television form and its unexpected offshoot projects. The origins of the research project are described first. This is followed by a discussion of some key issues and challenges the research group faced regarding the design. These include issues with sampling and material collection, the development of measures, coder selection and training, intercoder reliability, data entry and analysis, and writing, authorship, and presentation of the original study. The chapter also discusses the project's unexpected afterlife. It concludes with advice based on lessons I learned about conducting not just content analyses but any research project.

Origins: Developing Research Questions

The saga began in early 1995, when I was a junior ...

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